In the last month, there have been two events to which I have been invited via Facebook that have made my blood pressure go from normal to cardiac arrest in less than a nanosecond.
One event was called "Aunt Jemima Brunch," which was to be held at the Yotel. The second was "Mr. Wong's Dong Emporium," which was to be held at Vlada.
Please note that I am using past tense, and while I was not responsible for bringing down either of these events, I am extremely proud that I played a key part in raising such a motherfucking ruckus that both events posted apologies, said some noncommittal white people shit about not meaning to offend people, and changed the names of their events.
Let me give you some background before I really let ya'll have it about privilege white gay men in New York and their benign yet blatant racism.
(Cue flashback sequence here)
The first event came to my attention when I was perusing my invitations to various events. When I saw the invitation at first, with a photo of Aunt Jemima from the 50s (black woman in a head wrap)...I seriously didn't know what to think. I was at work, and I called a colleague over and asked if this was being ironic or should I be angry. I sincerely had a series of confused feelings. Then I proceeded to read the various wall posts related to the event. With each reading my temperature rose until I got to the bottom of the page where one of the four white gay male planners had posted a Youtube video clip of the ITALIAN-AMERICAN WOMAN IN BLACK FACE that originated the role of Aunt Jemima in Hollywood. There was no analysis. There was no irony. This was straight up racism, and the worst thing about it is that the hosts thought the shit was funny and were relating Aunt Jemima to childhood memories of pancakes and home cooking. Nevermind that by the time any of the hosts had ever tasted a drop of that nasty ass syrup the Negress in the Do-Rag had been exchanged for a vaguely British white woman walking and talking syrup bottle....the planners insisted that their naming of the event for Aunt Jemima was just a walk down memory lane.
If any of them had been in arms reach, I would be typing this from jail with a new boyfriend named Big Larry.
And the best part of the engagement with the organizers of the Aunt Jemima event was when one of the organizers posted a note saying that, and I quote, "I am from Canada and we don't have racism there." I almost shat daggers and threw one directly at his throat.
But, after I posted a respectful note on the wall of the brunch invite and also posted a note on my Facebook page, about 200 of my closest, bestest friends went ape shit on the page and within hours it was down.
And then, in a stroke of universal justice, Hurricane Irene hit and shut the whole damn thing down anyway. #BOOM
Now...my naive self thought that perhaps the Aunt Jemima Brunch was just one of those momentary blips of white gay male racism that bubble up from time to time. Generally, I feel, that there is usuall some good time/space in between when the stupidiy settles upon the brow of another benignly racist white gay man/men....but...in contradiction to that old bromide that lightening doesnt strike the same place twice....within a couple of weeks a bright WHITE bolt of stupid lightening struck again...and in the same neighborhood.
Not two or three nights past, a couple of friends of mine sounded the alarm and sent me messages about another party happening in my neighborhood. This time it was "Mr. Wong's Dong Emporium featuring Sum Hung Dancers and the Happy Endings Massage Parlor."
I can honestly say that I have never experienced so much racism in one invitation ever. EVER.
Now...I can honestly say that with the Aunt Jemima party, I was civil and never lost my temper. With the Mr. Wong's party I went King-Kong-Climb-A-Building-Ape-Shit. Yes I did. I called upon all the powers at my command...largely because I actually am acquainted with one of the promoters, and he lives in my neighborhood, and I happen to know that while he is not brown he is a member of another oppressed group...so my rage was amplified expontentially. And it was met, matched, and exceeded by the awesome powers of GAPIMNY (Gay Asian Pacific Island Men of New York). And, after flip tripping on the two benign white racists that were hosting the party, the name was changed post haste.
Now, let me say, I don't think and I do not attribute any overt malintent to any of the clueless human creatures that promoted these parties. I DO, however, attribute to them that they, at the very least, knew that these themes would be risque and raise some behind the hand giggles, like when all the white boys are together and someone makes an "off-color" nigger joke. But whatever the intent the impact on brown queer folks remains the same: it reconstructs, reconstitutes, and reifies the same systems of oppression in the straight world in our own white washed rainbow world.
And, lord have mercy, if I ever ever ever ever ever hear another white faggatron again say that they can't be racist because they are gay, I am going to stick my size 10 1/2 directly down their throat and then twist at the ankle. I. Am. Just. Saying.
Thank the Lord above that there are organizations such as the Audre Lorde Project that are out there reminding folks that brown queers exist and we aren't to be fucked with and Queers for Economic Justice that organizes broke, brown, and angry queer and trans folks. In fact, QEJ is going to throw a party to show these white gay benign racist how to party without the racism. Stay tuned in for QEJam: The Party without Oppression at Bartini coming to you soon in the next month or so.
Word to your anti-racist Mama.